Somalia Week in Focus: Top Stories (Feb. 10, 2017)

 Week ending February 10, 2017 

Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo wins Somalia presidential election

Former Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo won the Somali presidential election on February 8. Farmajo is a Somali-American who served a seven-month term as Somali Prime Minister and became popular among Somali youth and the security forces.

The election was held in a joint sitting of both houses of federal parliament at an air force compound in Mogadishu. Most of the city was on tight security lockdown in the days before, during and after the presidential elections.

328 MPs and Senators were present, with one MP absent, according to House Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari.

In the first round, the top four contenders were: outgoing President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who received 88 votes; former Prime Minister Farmajo, who received 72 votes; former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who received 49 votes; and outgoing Prime Minister, who received 37 votes.

The outgoing Prime Miniser, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake, decided to withdraw from competing in the second round of voting, which resulted with 184 votes for Farmajo, 97 for Mohamud, and 43 votes for Sharif.

Outgoing President Mohamud announced that he would not compete in a third round, conceding defeat and congratulating Farmajo as the new president of Somalia.

The incoming federal government faces major challenges in security, drought relief and national planning, constitutional review and federalism, reconciliation, institution-building, and economic reconstruction.

President-election Farmajo’s victory ignited demonstrations and celebratory gunfire in Mogadishu and across Somalia, and even in neighboring Kenya. Somali youth constitute Farmajo’s populist base, as his campaign made effective use of social media mobilization.

UN warns that Somalia is once again on the ‘brink’ of famine

The United Nations has called for “massive and urgent” aid to avert another famine disaster in Somalia.

Some 6.2 million Somalis need humanitarian assistance, and that number from 5 million in Sept. 2016, according to a UN report.

In the 2011 famine, the world spent US$1.3 billion in humanitarian aid after the 21st century’s “worst famine” killed a quarter-million people.

 Richard Trenchard, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Somalia director, said: “Labour prices are collapsing, local food prices are rising, food availability is becoming patchy, animal deaths are increasing, and malnutrition rates are rising, especially among children. Together, these are all signs that we are entering a phase that can lead to catastrophe.”

In January, UN and humanitarian agencies requested US$864 million in to provide urgent assistance to 3.9 million people in Somalia

Somalia’s government and regional states have launched drought relief efforts, but financial and technical limitations continue to hamper local efforts.

6 killed in first-ever Puntland terror attack, including two gunmen

Two gunmen and four civilians were killed this week when suspected extremists raided a hotel in the port city of Bossaso, in the northern Somali state of Puntland.

A group of six gunmen launched the dawn attack on Hotel International Village, frequented by government officials, visitors and foreigners. The brazen attack occurred on Wednesday morning, as Somalia was preparing to hold a much-delayed presidential election in Mogadishu later that day.

Security forces fought the attackers, killing two gunmen. The four remaining attackers escaped the scene after meeting armed resistance from security forces.

Puntland independent media reported that ISIS-affiliated faction that seized Qandala coastal town in Oct. 2016 claimed responsibility for the attack.

Bari governor Yusuf Mohamed Dhedo told Reuters that two attackers and four security forces were killed in the hotel firefight.

It was the first such hotel attack in Puntland history. In Mogadishu, Al Shabaab militants have stormed hotels over a dozen times, killing government officials and civilians.

The Bossaso hotel attack represents the deterioration and fragility of security conditions in Puntland, where government forces have been unpaid for up to seven months.

Source: Somali Review